SHAFAQNA – A lot can be said of a community by the manner of its welcoming of others. If Islam’s principles are weaved around acceptance, tolerance, justice and compassion, communities have been less kind in their approach – more often than not people have chosen bigotry and intolerance to protect what they see as their birthright.
Today, this misguided sense of entitlement over Islam is pushing away the very people trying to make their way towards AhlulBayt … What in the world am I talking about?
Once upon a time there was a young American woman whose passion for the Middle East led her on a journey of discovery towards Islam. A Westerner raised on a US army base, Milly’s world was not what you would call kind towards Islam or Muslims … and yet she choose to look beyond all prejudices to finally find her calling.
Needless to say that her decision to embrace Islam, to accept AhlulBayt as the one anchor she could not do without were difficult to make. Shun by her family for she choose to adopt a faith they hold in disdain, cut off from her “regular” circle of friends for she adopted the hijab, Milly pushed through hoping her new “kin” would make up for all her losses.
We FAILED rather dramatically. Not only have we failed but we actually managed to cast her out, when all she was asking for was acceptance and guidance.
Milly recently worked up the courage to create a Facebook account so that she could reach out to the community. She did so hoping that she would be welcomed with open-arms. She did so believing that she was home!
Within 24 hours she was accused of being a fake, a spy, an opportunist and altogether an undesirable.
I happen to have met Milly! I grant you briefly, but I did meet with her and she was nothing short of genuinely lovely. And so what if she is not familiar with our traditions just yet and still needs to learn to navigate our social circles?
Is this what we do now? Do we reject people on account they don’t match our expectations? Do we discard those who come towards Islam on account we are not quite convinced of their sincerity?
If the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) could not bring himself to out the hypocrites for he knew that none but God can read men’s hearts, then who are we to feel so inclined?
Islam we may do well to remember is not ours … Islam is God’s religion. Islam is not open for debate, it is not ours to trade or barter … we are Islam’s undeserving servants. We are NOT dictators of fatwas. We are not tyrants over men’s souls.
Who are we to turn away those who seek help and knowledge in the way of AhlulBayt?
Milly’s story matters for this is not the first time converts are being mistreated. As a convert myself I cannot help but feel for Milly’s heartache. Laugh all you want but this young Shia someone felt entitled to mistreat is heartbroken.
Her Facebook account was disabled after being reported and flagged as a fake.
She now feels rejected by the one people she trusted would welcome her no matter what …. Well done us for being so arrogant! Well done us for making Islam a faith one must be born into to truly belong … hold on that is NOT supposed to be us.
WE are expected to be better, know better and act better.
I am at a loss here … what could motivate such senseless hatred towards a young convert? My question is why … to what gain?
Islam is our only to spread! Islam is an open invitation to Truth, not a possession to inherit!
We are better than that surely!
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna